When we first met Hayden he was what one might describe as a challenging student. He wasn’t able to focus during our daily community circle, was a major distraction for other students and was obviously struggling with issues of self-control and self-worth. Then we began the peace hero project.
The project is an exploration in how peace is a part of power and how people can make a difference using peace instead of violence to change the world. Hayden chose Mildred Norman Ryder, better known as the peace pilgrim, a woman who walked cross-country spreading peace. From her, Hayden said he realized peace wasn’t the same as stillness.
One particular afternoon after a bad day of school Hayden asked if he could take 10 minutes to walk around the garden. From then on he was empowered to ask for space when he needed it and he initiated discussions on strategies for how to react when he was bullied at school. Through Global Gardens and the peace hero project Hayden was changed.
“This year I learned that I actually have the ability to be patient, I used to think there was no hope. I used to be very depressed but a lot of people here have helped me become a better person and I’ve helped them become a better person too,” said Hayden. “It’s actually helped me a lot academically too. Since I’ve come here I’ve brought my grades up, I’ve become a better student, I’ve gotten to be so good to where my teachers actually brag about me. I used to be the kind of kid who went to class and the teacher would be like ‘oh no, he’s the talker’ but Global Gardens helped me to be peaceful and it turns out that I’m actually very, very academically intelligent.”